>> what they did have us a lot of confidence in their own endeavor. just as they had made the united states what lies, they could succeed and make this other country independent, they can bs on the basis of cotton and slaves. they talked about this a lot. for the first couple of years of the war come to compare themselves to other european
countries in terms of population and natural resources and the value of the trade. they were riding high. the confederacy is often misunderstood. we come to see of it as an interesting move. they were losing in the union. they decided to take this kimmel. they did do that, but they were the only slaveholding class in the 19th century world today. the brazilians didn't do it. i did these guys do it? that's an interesting question. i explained what the mindset was. it is fascinating inside the mind. not just in terms of social power, but political power. they really did not doubt to do that separately. the confidence is bear. >> host: was her overwhelming support amongst the south.
>> guest: know, it's a really interesting political campaign. i have written about it three or four times in my life. it's as interesting as any campaign in modern history. karl rove would've been impressed. most of the political elite, only a third own slaves and most of them didn't own very many. but it was orchestrating this and they were extremely confident they can do this, and they believe that they would be able to pull it off. they did not have any trouble aligning each other. but this was a white man's democracy. there were not property qualifications. so they had to do this and they had to win an election. they were not at all confident about that. an incredible amount of military
violence and intimidation that went into it. it was also very uneven. in south carolina they pulled it off. when you are in a meeting and everything is unanimous, which is how they were able to succeed from the union come they did in one day -- there were a lot of stories as to how they pulled that off. in other places come in the back story shows. in alabama, the country represented charge that they were being run out of the union and democracy was being violated people in virginia look at what was happening inside, no ordinary farmer would vote for this. the elites have run us out of the union without the proper consideration of the democratic process. it's very revealing of what democracy was in a slave regime.
they often made the case, especially the political elite, the democracy was a mob. they did not like the direction that the electoral process was going. but they had to play the game to get the session through and they strong-armed it through the numbers of states in the upper south, the normal democratic south did not yield to succession. but they did not succeed until they were fired on. and even then, there were eight states and four of them did and for them didn't. that meant that the confederacy ended up fighting with 11 swing states. eleven instead of 15. there were 15 slave states. only 11 states and the
confederacy. see see them breaking off a part of the south. never putting the fate of the confederacy. >> host: to jefferson davis ever won an election? just. >> guest: he was a senator. he was nominated as a moderate in february of 1861 in montgomery, alabama. i do not think he ever did get elected. one of the things that the american thing -- the confederate constitution was a replica of the u.s. constitution. but it was not. a number of crucial changes occurred. one of them was a one term executive. and i believe it was a five-year executive term. >> host: professor stephanie
mccurry, was there a lot of political insight during the war in the south? >> just come otherwise. there were no formal political parties. one of the things it that is interesting about the confederacy as it became clear and the things didn't exactly materialize. theoretically everyone was a democrat. there was no republican party or the republican party ticket. you could not vote for lincoln. they were allies with the democratic party. during the war, opposition arose and some of them were calmly profoundly opposed to days administration on very good grounds that the administration wasn't for centralizing federally concentrated power regimes of the entirety of
american history. once i've just looked at the union government, the structure of the state and the federal government in the union. the structure of the state in the federal government and the confederacy and he said that the confederacy -- the united states never had a government that big and talked on until the new deal. they succeeded on slaves rights than they had to build a precedent case. they built this state apparatus. they scripted it within a year. think of that as a statement of power. they constructed it. basically took a year. they had agents of the federal government all over the south, literally taking food out of people's spines. his only way that they could feed the army. they impressed the slaves, which was an enormous fight.
getting the slaves and slave holders to go to war to protect the army. and they think the new government is there to protect their slaves in the wartime. but it turns out that the federal government wants to and need to needs to use those slaves to win the war. it is an enormous tussle and they also wrote a clause in the constitution that says that the congress could never abolish slavery. so they literally had a problem of sovereignty. they could not even reach the slaves to use for military labor. they couldn't reach them without the permission of the owner. they had a codified and unambiguous term is private property. a lot of these slaveholders were mortgaged up to the eyeballs. the slaves, all of whom were talking about what the war was about, what it meant to have a powerful ally like the union.
the engineers in virginia said that slaves don't like to do this work and they don't want to do it for personal reasons, but they also know that they don't like to do it because they don't want to do any labor that will force the union so that is fascinating. the stories in this book that i love her the most interesting is watching the psychology of these slaveholders change. these are human beings of a sort. but once you desires and objectives have no meaning for them. from the minute lincoln was elected, they started noticing a difference in the behavior of their slaves. one of the things in the book that is different, i used the plantation record to strengthen the war.
we have all the slaves to grow the cotton and as soon as they try to tried to do that, they come up against these planters because they are already in rebellion on the plantation. communicating with the enemy, guiding them up the river in swamps and it's completely fascinating. the human struggle and the levels of history by slaves and the highly intimate nature of that struggle with the owners. it is just an amazing part of this story. it is very fine grained. but absolutely epic and compelling. >> host: what about the role of southern rights during the founding of the confederacy and the war itself? >> guest: this is one of the things i have worked on my whole
career. feeling this heavy weight of history. historians are saying, are we really going to act like women don't matter, and the confederacy, obviously women don't have a vote. but that doesn't mean they don't have political opinions. they get made into the symbol of the nation. they say all the women, the women are with us. but in fact, there are many women who are very pro-confederate and become increasingly so as the war goes on. some women think this is a crazy idea. sometimes they are more rational and pragmatic about what war is
going to bring. not glory, but death. the moment when women step into the making of history has to do with the question you asked me at the beginning about the demographics. they go to war against the union. especially after mcclelland got the boot. when grant and sherman were running the show. one of the union tactics was to bring more and more men in and success of confederacy simultaneously. what it did was refuse them the ability to movement around. the pressure of the numbers, you can just hack it and the conscription rate, military service among white men, historians think it is between
75 and 85% of military age men. but when i tell people about this, they say, are you sure. by the end, military age with six years old to 65 years old. so what do you think this looks like with 85% of men gone? the other thing you have to keep in mind that this is an agricultural country. women always worked in the field, not elite women, but the poor ones. they had to labor. they were supplementing the labor of their husbands or their teenage sons. now they are doing it on their own. one of the things i write about is the way women become, in a sense, political persons that the government has to reckon
with. especially at the state level. because the besieged government with letters initially telling these tales of woe. they start out to be threatening letters, we will bring the deserters down on you, we will bring the guerrillas down on you. in the end, the confederacy really has a starvation level food crisis in the spring of 1863. when it happens, they know it is coming. county clerks are writing each other and davis, the secretary of war, they say you can't take any more food out of these farms for these armies because the people are starving for the women step in to represent the community and they start attacking the confederate government about the justice of military policy. the rich man's war and poor man's viability comes a fight as
well. the women start to reroute power. they make themselves a powerful constituency. then there is a wave of food riots that started when a in for a month, i think it's more than a dozen. armed bands of women and it's followed by a cloud of a thousand other people. the press thinks it's a conspiracy. they have conspiracy theories. in richmond, the mayor indicted the women. and all the court records are there to show these women were being planned for at least 10 days. she called all these women to a
public meeting and she told them to come to the market the next morning two of their children at home. they did. they showed up the next morning. and they lifted up. for a month, the confederacy -- davis tried to stop the telegraph lines so it would not get out to the union but it did. they thought, this must be the end. the women are up in arms. so they step into the making of history in a decisive way. they put the states on notice and it's a really interesting and important political moment. >> host: what was the level of desertion? >> guest: is higher than the union, but the union also has a
desertion problem. the confederacy struggled with this. they struggled with armed unionist guerrillas. many of them had a lot of unionist activity within them. when the davis administration makes the man go after men that have deserted, they try, you know, all kinds of things. they sent out troops after them to bring them back in. here in the woods, they are hiding in the only people they can find are the women. they torture them for information about the whereabouts of the men. i don't know if you've ever read cold mountain or seen the movie,
they say there are no more white men to be had. at that point, this conversation start seriously about whether they have to use black soldiers. it is a perfect arc of justice and slavery is an element of strength to we have to consider emancipating slaves to force them to listen the confederacy. that is another story that i tell in the book. a lot of people think that the confederacy chose independence over slavery. but the confederate congress in the virginia legislator refused to have emancipation tour.
it is intimately connected. we are focusing on this and asking about the change. but also to take seriously the historical reckoning that came with the secession of the union. in the end to say that this is a story of military defeat. but that is intimately connected to the political ambition and failure of that national independence project but because of their own people. when we write this history, we
are talking about the enslaved men and women and children. i'm trying to bring human beings into the story. all of these people play a part in this. it was the connection and pressures from the outside that really explain what happened. >> host: "confederate reckoning" one mini book awards and the pulitzer prize and we are talking with history professor stephanie mccurry. thank you for your time. >> guest: thank you. >> coming up next on booktv,
we talk with barbie zelizer on her book "about to die: how news images move the public." she talks about the recent "new york post" cover photo that showed a man about to be killed by a new york city subway train. >> on the screen is a photograph is that was taken in 1942 at buffalo new york. professor barbie zelizer come when we looking at? >> it is a woman who was committing suicide and the photographer happened to be passing by at the time. he captured this moment at the person's death, the moment that the person was about to die. this is really the start of a whole legacy of photos of death.
>> host: what is the value in seeing that picture of that woman jumping off the building? >> guest: it pulls us in, that is the value of that. it's a very memorable thing. it's important. not only do we want to understand what we are seeing, but we want to feel important things about what we are seeing. we want to feel fear and anguish and compassion. all these mentalities that helped to draw this for us in making important. we have a reason your post photo >> this was a gentleman from queens who was pushed off of a subway platform.
happen to snap his picture. i think that this picture illustrates where we've come in terms of public sentiments and professional sentiments about pictures that people facing death. the first picture, it won awards, tremendous acclaim for the photographer, a kind of picture that people want to have the news. this picture and the photographer and the newspaper were widely critiqued. people have been saying what were they thinking. why did he run away, why did the newspaper actually show this sort has to do with what they are doing in connecting